Interview With Motion City Soundtrack

Courtesy of MCS

Kevin Terrell

Currently pop-punk’s most dominant act, Motion City Soundtrack is on the road again for the third time (at least) this year, brandishing a darker, edgier, more diverse sound coming from their recently released fourth alum My Dinosaur Life. Kicking off their 36-city tour right here in San Diego, Justin Pierre and Josh Cain, founding members of the energetic, yet notoriously self-conscious group from Minneapolis, along with keyboardist Jesse Johnson, talked with USD Radio before their show: You guys have always been tireless when it comes to touring, this is already your third major tour this year. How do you keep up that pace?

Justin: We’ve had a bit of time off, but I don’t know (laughs)…. Just don’t think about it, maybe that’s an answer.

Josh: Yeah, I guess you just do what you gotta do. Although I didn’t go on Warped Tour, so it’s kinda weird on my end. Because I just had a kid, she’s four months old now. It’s super hard to go on tour right now, this is only my fourth day being away from her.

USDR: Oh yeah, congratulations.

Josh: Thank you. But yeah, I don’t know. I mean, you have to stay connected to your fans. Try to be accessible, and try to be available. For us, the live show is such a big part of what we do, we really sell the band with the live show, so we especially feel like we need to tour as much as we can.

USDR: Was any of that creative process on your latest album, My Dinosaur Life, inspired or maybe hindered by being on the new, major record label Columbia instead of [the independent label] Epitaph?

Josh: No, its been fine. The transition was easy, we joined the new label before Even if it Kills Me even came out, so we’ve been on the label technically for years, so we’ve had a lot of time to breed into that culture there. Its not that different, but it is; it’s a big crowd of people, a big system, big talk. There’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen sometimes, but not really. Its just…more, I guess.

Jesse: Yeah totally. Actually they pretty much let us do whatever we wanted to do. We just recorded a bunch of songs and they put them out, so its just like any other indie label really.

USDR: Well My Dinosaur Life has been getting rave reviews, and it has a definite edginess to it that’s kind of new for your band, where did that come from?

Justin: Yeah I was just going to say, we did feel like we had to be a certain way trying to write the third record Even if it Kills Me. From us, not the label. That one was the one where we had a plan, and tried really hard to write catchy songs, because we didn’t know if we could. And I think we ended up writing a whole record of…pretty. Songs that are pretty. So we kinda tried to avoid that.

Josh: Yeah, for sure I think [the new edginess] is like knee-jerk reactions to what we did before. With our last record, [Even If It Kills Me] I think we were really worried about being able to follow up an album like Commit this to Memory, so we ended up writing a bunch of really poppy songs. Which is great, I mean, I love that record [Even if it Kills Me], it just was what it is, and [afterwards] we were like ‘wow we really went one direction on that’ that I didn’t really foresee us going.

Justin: Right. Looking back at the last record we were like ‘oh shoot, we missed that other part of things,’ so we tried to compensate for that on this record. And I don’t know if we over compensated or not, but it’s a little darker, and meaner,and rawer, and sloppier, which I like personally.

USDR: Is that why you picked pretty much the heaviest song, Disappear, as the first single?

Josh: Oh yeah, we definitely wanted people to see that side right off the bat just to show them, you know, what the new album had to offer in that direction.

USDR: Has that newfound anger translated to more energy in your live show?

Justin: I think that energy will come back in a few days. Just speaking for me, I tend to, uh, worry a lot. Most of the time. Like, if you look up at me tonight, you’ll probably see me freaking out, trying to figure out what the hell is going on, being nervous and worried and weird, and that usually goes away in a few days, and then I’m just, I guess, normal nervous as opposed to really nervous…I’ve just been overwhelmed this first few days with trying to remember and relearn and learn new parts. We tend to, like in the last few recordings, we’ll record a bunch of parts and it sounds good in the song, but then we need to decide who’s going to play what parts live.

USDR: Is there a particular song you’re worried about?

Justin: Most of them. Uh, yeah most of the new ones.

USDR: I wouldn’t worry too much, from everything I’ve read your fans are really happy with the new album.

Jesse: Yeah, we were really happy with the magazines and the press and the fans, everyone was really receptive to it. We got some of our best reviews in magazines and stuff.

Justin: I think it’s just a matter of not being afraid to try new things as a band. And its weird because as a fan of music you never want it to change, but as a person who makes music you always want to try new things, so I think as long as you don’t try to do anything specific, but you experiment, I think you can’t really lose. I mean, you can lose, but I think if you’re trying to pander to people, I think people know it, and don’t react to it kindly. Whereas I think as long as we’re happy, the fans will get honest music and people usually respect that.